Return of the fantastic creatures from ancient China into the virtual age

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2010
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- By exploring myths and fantasies from ancient China to the virtual age, the evolution can be traced of fantastic creatures from traditional stories and legends (such as the Torch Dragon, the Nine-Tailed Fox and superpowered humans) to the art and popular culture of today (including technologically and genetically enhanced humans and virtual-intelligent artificial beings). This creative work and dissertation proposes that, adapting to their times and environment, two functions are carried by fantastic creatures: that they reflect human emotions, and also that they are symbols that carry the values of their contemporary society. The first art project The Dragon of the Internet is created as the regeneration of an ancient fantastic creature in the digital age, to reflect the intense desire of “Netizens” (“net citizens”) for exploring the Internet world. The appearance of the Dragon of the Internet simulates the human blood circulation system as an organic metaphor to illustrate increasingly intimate relationships between Netizens and the Internet. This interactive work condenses the phenomena of the digital-virtual world through digital interactive devices that offer “senses” to the digital Dragon, to help it grow and mature by exchanging energy and information with its viewers. The second art project The One-Horned Human is designed as a virtual fossil discovery from 2942 AD. A new species of human is imagined as a representation of the digital desire for living online. Exposed by their determined pursuit of online experiences to high levels of EMF pollution, and facilitated by genetic innovation, a head-mounted horn has mutated to become a direct interface between the Internet and the offline world. In this speculative scenario, the One-Horned Humans successfully transcend their physical bodies, transforming their consciousness into digitized form to live in a digital utopia, leaving behind only fragmented evidence of their culture. Of all the innumerable elements in mythology, fantastic creatures carry diverse messages through the most lively and fascinating of images. When people face unpredictable conditions such as wars, disasters and diseases, fantastic creatures step in and fill the gap in understanding. The diverse qualities of the fantastic creatures found in myths and popular culture may be thought of as a “cultural index”, a diagnostic tool to decode contemporary social and cultural concerns. This work aims to show a different perspective to reconsider our own culture and the significance of the contemporary digital-virtual world.
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